SEOUL — A reported 125 South Korean women collectively ingested an abortion pill on Sunday in a protest against the country’s laws banning abortion.
Korea Bizwire reports that the demonstration was held in front of the Bosingak Pavilion in Seoul’s Jongno district as the protesters called for the South Korean government to legalize abortion. The number 125 was meant to represent the number of women who undergo an abortion every hour in the country, albeit illegally.
The outlet reports that the women claimed that abortion is not “taboo or sin,” and that the act has been wrongly linked to single women and the promiscuous.
“Abortion is the most commonly performed surgery in the world and normal women choose to get abortions for various reasons,” the protesters remarked in a statement that was read out loud. “Being able to get an abortion is a basic right for women.”
They asked that they be granted the “right” to an abortion, including taking pills such as Mifegyne, which induce abortion. They reportedly ingested the pill collectively in an act of defiance and protest against current regulations.
Abortion was banned in South Korea in 1953, and in 1973, the country passed an amendment that permitted abortion in cases of rape, incest, the health of the mother, and the transmittance of a communicable disease from either parent.
Women who obtain an abortion outside of these reasons may face up to a year in prison and a fine of 2 million won or $1,850, according to Public Radio International. However, few women and physicians are actually prosecuted.
“According to an October 2016 survey of 1,018 people, about 53 percent of South Koreans believe abortion is morally ‘a kind of murder,'” the outlet reports. Others oppose abortion because there is already a low birth rate in the nation.
Earlier this year, abortion “rights” supporters gathered 230,000 signatures in favor of changing South Korea’s current abortion ban. However, Catholics in the nation also circulated their own petition to maintain the status quo, which generated a reported 1,005,000 signatures.
As previously reported, one pastor in South Korea has been working to save the lives of babies who have been abandoned by their mothers, placing a heated dropbox outside of his home where women can anonymously leave their children in safe hands. The 2014 documentary “The Drop Box” chronicled Lee Jong-rak’s story.
“One of the mothers told me that she had poison to kill both herself and her baby,” Jong-rak outlined in the film. “So I told her, ‘Don’t do that. Come here with your baby.’”
At the time of filming, the pastor had 20 children living at his orphanage and was credited with saving countless lives.
“Human beings are not trash. They are not garbage. They are not to be thrown away. They are not to be abandoned,” Jong-rak said of the world’s abandoned children. “They have a right to be happy. They have a right to live.”